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how to: get out of debt

If you’re ready to get out of debt and boost your fiscal fitness, you’ve come to the right place. Staring at that huge stack of bills, fielding the unpleasant phone calls -- even just knowing you’re in the red can really drag you down. Luckily, we’re here to help you get back up! We have tons of advice for getting out of debt, including credit card debt help and an easy-to-use debt calculator to help you pay off debt. You’ll also find debt advice on how to renegotiate your credit card debt and ways to improve your credit (even before you’re out of debt!). Not sure where to begin? Why not give our 7 simple steps to getting out of debt at try -- they will definitely help you find your financial footing. Tackling your debt as a twosome? We’ve got plenty of debt advice geared toward couples. Learn about financial basics for newlyweds, including how to choose the right bank and when to merge your accounts. Peek into real couples’ budgets and see how they fixed their finances. And if you’re wondering where to find all that extra money to pay off debt -- don’t worry, we’ve got that covered too. We have debt help and cash-saving secrets from financial pros, and the money tips that spending savvy couples must know -- plus saving secrets from fellow Nesties. Finally, check out our tips to help you stay out of debt for good -- set up a household budget, plan your paychecks, and get credit smart.

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Money Q&A: How to Divide Paychecks?

Q.

The Nest Q&A

What percentage of our paychecks should go toward which specific expenses so we don't go into debt?

A.

Figuring out how to divide your paycheck is crucial in reining in your finances. Here are guidelines of the maximum percentages to put your monthly earnings toward:

35% housing: This means your mortgage, taxes, home insurance, maintenance, and any other living costs (utilities, renovations, and the like). Before you sign on the dotted line for a mortgage, create a new budget that includes what the monthly payments would be. If you're cutting it too close, it isn't worth it.

15% transportation:
Including car payments, gas, repairs, insurance, and public transport

10% debt repayment: Pay more toward your credit card debt and the minimum on your student loans. In most cases, student loans are cheaper debts (because of the low interest rates) that are okay to stretch out.

10% savings: Put aside money for your 401(k), IRA, and other safety-net funds. If you can't do 10, save 5 percent and up your savings by at least 1 percent a year.

25% everything else: Besides medical treatments, food, and other essentials, this is where you can be the strictest with your budget. Track this spending closely. If you can cut corners each month, you might be able to put more money toward your home, retirement, or paying off debt.

Nestpert Jean Chatzky is a money coach, the financial editor for the Today show, and the author of of five books 

-- The Nest Editors

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